Bhakti Yoga: Practicing Bliss

Bhakti yoga is devotional practice. Usually, bhakti yoga is singing or simply repeating of the names of the divine. For me, it is about cultivating bliss in whatever way works for you. I believe that it is through bliss that we connect with divine energy and the power of devotion.

When I first heard Joseph Campbell‘s words “Follow your Bliss”, I was struck by their elegant simplicity and remember thinking “Yes, I will do this somehow.” That was more than 12 years ago when my yoga practice became a central part of my life.

I remember during one particular outdoor solo practice, I had this incredible rush through my body, as though all the energy channels in my body opened at once. It felt like an orgasm.* For the rest of my practice and for some time afterward, I felt high and light and filled with bliss. “This is it,” I thought. I had a mini-epiphany: Bliss is like a butterfly. I cannot hold on to it forever, but I can cultivate it through the regular practice of focused attention and movement. “Practice Bliss” became my mantra and even the name of my business for a while. It continues to be my motivator and through Sustainable Yoga for Longterm Happiness, my approach to teaching, I strive to share this practice of bliss with my students.


This past week, we ran a Giveaway Challenge to win passes to the upcoming Montreal Yoga Music Festival. We asked people what makes them feel blissful or devotional & how they cultivate bliss and devotion in their life and in others.

Congratulations to Marianne Szanto, the winner of our challenge. Here’s an excerpt from her lovely essay:

We all know the floating ecstasy of feeling alive when the sun sets on a summer night at a beach, when we fall in love, when we hold our newborn in our hands. These moments are stepping stones to a higher state of consciousness that connects us to the cosmic heart of the Universe. Some people call it divine; some people call it higher consciousness, but it is in essence a state that is our highest, happiest vibration. {…} There are no coincidences in life. A Living Social Deal got me acquainted with Montreal’s Equilibrium Yoga Studio and kundalini yoga. It was love at first sight. I rediscovered the power of mantras and had some mystical experiences since I am at the studio. I also used the Adi Shakti mantra on my hiking mates and colleagues with great success. I could not be happier. This is bliss.

This is what other people had to say:

Marie-claude Taillefer: “Devotion for me is be yourself and give yourself at the moment.”

Ma Madhavi Aradhana: “No greater bliss than when my baby smiles at me when we chant together…this is my devotion, for her to always remember the Bhava.”

Dita Pilates: “What makes me feel blissful?…To change people s body through what I teach and deeply believe in….Pilates. What is devotion to me? To always be there for my clients.”

Rosina Felice: “What makes me feel blissful these days is dance and music…it allows complete abandon and surrender.”

*PS In one episode of Sex in the City, Samantha talks about having a ‘Yogasm’ during a yoga class. Perhaps she was experiencing something similar to devotional.